Former Dallas Cowboy on Trial for Intoxication Manslaughter

Earlier this month, former Dallas Cowboys player Josh Brent sat in a Dallas county courtroom, amidst a jury of ten women and 2 men, while attorneys on both sides began to recount the horrific automobile accident that led to the death of his former teammate, Jerry Brown Jr.

Brent is being charged with intoxication manslaughter. Prosecutors describe Brent as “operating with reckless abandon” when the accident occurred on December 8, 2012 in Irving. Defense counsel states that Brent made a terrible mistake that night, but he was not intoxicated when he got behind the wheel.

It is argued that the accident was in part due to Brent driving at such a fast speed. Allegedly, Brent’s Mercedes hit a curb, flipped, caught on fire and then slid almost 900 feet as it sped along the service road near Highway 114 near loop 12. Neither man was wearing a seat belt. Further, records indicate that Brent did not have a valid driver’s license at the time.

Once police arrived at the scene, Brent was seen pulling Brown out of a burning vehicle. The car had flipped. Not long after the accident, Brown was pronounced dead at a Dallas hospital.

In the first few days of the trial, the prosecution claimed that Brent was so intoxicated that he was incapable of understanding or appreciating the danger of traveling at such a fast speed. Police reports state that the officer on the scene smelled alcohol on Brent’s breath and also found an unopened bottle of liquor in the vehicle. Brent first refused a blood test, but was later forced to submit to the test after Brown was declared dead.

It has been reported that Brent’s BAC (blood alcohol concentration) was 0.189. In Texas, the legal limit is 0.08. Because of Brent’s size, his lawyers argue that he was not drunk at the time of the accident. Brent’s playing weight was approximately 320 pounds.

Brent retired from the NFL in July 2013. He released a statement saying that he needed to focus on other priorities that are more important than football. If convicted, Brent faces a $10,000 fine and up to 20 years in prison.

Intoxication manslaughter is a serious offense in Texas. The offense is defined by Texas Penal Code, Section 49.08 and states:

  • (a) A person commits an offense if the person: Operates a motor vehicle in a public place, operates an aircraft, a watercraft, or an amusement ride, or assembles a mobile amusement ride; and Is intoxicated and by reason of that intoxication causes the death of another by accident or mistake.
  • (b) Except as provided by Section 49.09, an offense under this section is a felony of the second degree.

Any DWI offense in Texas can lead to severe penalties. It is important to take all DWI charges seriously and speak with an experienced attorney as soon as you can. I work with clients in Dallas, Collin, and Corsicana counties and I can help you, too! Please, do not hesitate to call my office and schedule a consultation.

Friday, 1/17/14, Update: The prosecution rested its case on Thursday. Today the judge ruled that the defense’s expert witness, Janine Arvizu, a chemist, can only provide limited testimony. It appears the judge was not convinced Arvizu qualified as an expert witness on the proper subject. Get live updates here.